Excerpt from the Frederick News-Post:
A meeting of the minds regarding the city’s historic preservation efforts is getting closer to actually happening.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission sent a letter Feb. 9 to Mayor Randy McClement and the board of aldermen requesting a formal meeting to discuss the role and expectations for the HPC and vision for the future of the commission and the Frederick Town Historic District.
HPC member Stephen Parnes spearheaded the request at a Jan. 26 meeting and brought a draft letter for other members to sign at the group’s next meeting on Feb. 9. Chairman Scott Winnette signed the letter, which reached McClement’s desk this past week, on behalf of the full commission.
McClement said Wednesday he has not had a chance to look into the details of the request to create an agenda and does not know when officials will schedule a meeting.
Parnes prefaced the original request by saying the commissioners have never had a formal meeting with elected officials and city staff, but serve as the primary decision makers for significant historic preservation cases. Thus, he said, better communication and more open dialogue is necessary.
The letter said HPC members wish to discuss “some new and evolving matters worthy of discourse.” The matters include blighted properties, demolition of structures, code enforcement, and placement of public utility meters. The letter did not specify any cases, however. The letter also said commissioners want to discuss “the public perception of the work, influence, and operational parameters of the HPC and staff.”
Parnes said via phone after the Jan. 26 meeting, as he was drafting the letter, that he personally wants more guidance on what he can say to people in public regarding HPC cases. He said he wants to be sure he does not hinder any of the processes but can still keep the community informed about what they may want to or need to know about the commission’s work.
“I what to know what we should say, what we can say, how much we can discus with residents who make direct comments to us as fellow residents,” he said.
The letter addressed that desire as well.
“The fact that the HPC was created, exists, and convenes regularly is testament to its critical role in the city of Frederick,” the letter said. “The HPC cases and hearings are of interest to our populace and receive considerable coverage from our local news sources. Hence, given its essential place in our community and the frequent attention that it elicits (and sometimes well-known criticism that it evokes), the members of the HPC believe that it would behoove us all to meet and discuss where we are and where we are heading.”
The meeting will be open to the public, as both the board of aldermen and HPC are public entities. The letter said the meeting will hopefully be a jumping off point for regular conversations between the HPC, elected officials and city staff.